Common cybersecurity threats

How To Prevent the 7 Most Common Cybersecurity Threats

| 13 min read |

In today's digital age, cyber threats are a major risk for small and medium-sized businesses. Many overlook cybersecurity as an unnecessary expense. However, small businesses are especially vulnerable, facing three times more cyberattacks than larger companies. But what exactly is a cyberattack? It's when an individual or organization intentionally attempts to wreak havoc on another's network. While the movies might show these as dramatic, one-off events, real cyberattacks often fly under the radar. In fact, you might not even realize you've been a victim of a cyberattack until it's too late.

As we increasingly conduct our lives online, the frequency of cyberattacks continues to rise. In 2023, small and medium-sized businesses in particular faced a surge in cybersecurity challenges, with 13% reporting they were targeted by ransomware attacks. Insights from Dragos, a critical infrastructure security company revealed that 44% of ransomware attacks last year targeted North American industrial organizations. Europe was also a top threat, with 32% of attacks targeting organizations there. The ever-evolving tactics of cybercriminals underscore the importance of remaining vigilant against these threats and to use that knowledge to develop a sound cybersecurity strategy.

What Are the 7 Most Common Cybersecurity Threats?

Before we look at how cybercriminals operate, let's understand the two main types of security threats to your business: attacks on your overall network and attacks on individual wireless devices. Each poses a unique threat to the vulnerabilities in your business's network.

Network attacks target the systems that your business uses to operate every day. This includes things like your computers, the servers that store your business's data, and the equipment that connects your business to the Internet. The attackers might try to steal your data, change it, or even delete it.

Wireless attacks focus on devices that connect to your business’s WiFi, like laptops, smartphones, tablets, or any other device that uses the internet. This kind of attack aims to compromise these specific devices directly.

Now, let's take a look at some of the most common cybersecurity threats that cybercriminals may present to your business in their efforts to break through its cyber protection. 

1. Malware

This is a term used for malicious software, such as spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms. They can enter your network via a simple click on a dangerous link or the installation of risky software.

2. Phishing

Ever had an odd email from your "boss"? You might have been the target of a phishing attack. These are fraudulent emails pretending to be from a reputable source, aiming to steal sensitive data, such as credit card information, social security numbers, or your network login information. 

3. Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attack

A MitM attack, or an eavesdropping attack, occurs when a hacker interrupts a two-party transaction to steal data. They could gain full access to your network's data without you even knowing. For example, suppose your remote employees are logging in from an unprotected public WiFi network. An attacker could interpose themselves between one of their devices and the network, giving them full access to your network's data without your employees’ knowledge or consent. Given the popularity of wireless devices, MitM attacks are extremely common cybersecurity threats.

4. Denial-of-Service Attack

A denial-of-service attack floods a system, server, or network with too much traffic, causing your system to become overloaded and unable to handle legitimate user requests. 

5. Structured Query Language (SQL) Injection

An SQL injection occurs when an attacker inserts malicious code into a server that uses SQL and forces the server to reveal information it normally wouldn’t. Creating an SQL injection is as easy as submitting malicious code into a vulnerable website’s search query field. 

6. Zero-Day Exploit

A zero-day exploit targets a specific time of network vulnerability. Typically, these attacks occur after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers will target the disclosed vulnerability during this window of time, so these attacks are often swift and discreet. 

7. Domain Name System (DNS) Tunneling

DNS tunneling utilizes the DNS protocol to communicate non-DNS traffic over port 53. DNS tunneling can be a legitimate protocol, but it can also be used for malicious attacks as well. Attackers use virtual private networks (VPNs) to disguise outbound traffic as DNS, concealing data that is typically shared through an internet connection. Malicious DNS requests are manipulated to exfiltrate data from a compromised system to the attacker's infrastructure.

Protect Against These Cybersecurity Threats

Fighting these threats seems daunting, but there are measures you can take for your cyber safety. Firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, web filtering, and antivirus/antispyware can all act as lines of defense. Services like GTA's Multi-Threat Security Bundle provide these defenses at an affordable cost.

And remember, your network provider plays a critical role in your defense against cyberattacks. GTA is committed to strengthening your business's cyber resilience. We stand ready to help protect your digital assets with our managed cybersecurity services, designed to evolve with technology and provide robust defenses against new threats. Reach out to our team to learn how we can help your business build up its cyber resilience and keep your data secure.